Daphne Keller is the Director of Intermediary Liability at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society. Her work focuses on platform regulation and Internet users' rights. She has published both academically and in popular press; testified and participated in legislative processes; and taught and lectured extensively. Her recent work focuses on legal protections for users’ free expression rights when state and private power intersect, particularly through platforms’ enforcement of Terms of Service or use of algorithmic ranking and recommendations. Until 2015 Daphne was Associate General Counsel for Google, where she had primary responsibility for the company’s search products. She worked on groundbreaking Intermediary Liability litigation and legislation around the world and counseled both overall product development and individual content takedown decisions.
High Res Photo of Daphne Keller
Most people I talk to think that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies should take down ugly-but-legal user speech. Platforms are generally applauded for taking down racist posts from the White Nationalist demonstrators in Charlottesville, for example. I see plenty of disagreement about exactly what user-generated content should come down -- breastfeeding images? Passages from Lolita? Passages from Mein Kampf? But few really oppose the basic predicate of these removals: that private companies can and should be arbiters of permissible speech on their platforms.*
Alarm bells are sounding around the Internet about proposed changes to one of the US’s core Intermediary Liability laws, Communications Decency Act Section 230 (CDA 230). CDA 230 broadly immunizes Internet platforms against legal claims based on speech posted by their users. It has been credited as a key protection for both online expression and Internet innovation in the US. CDA 230 immunities have limits, though. Platforms are not protected from intellectual property claims (mostly handled under the DMCA) or federal criminal claims.
In its Equustek ruling in June, the Canadian Supreme Court held that Google must delete search results for users everywhere in the world, based on Canadian law. Google has now filed suit in the US, asking the court to confirm that the order can’t be enforced here. Here’s my take on that claim.
The Canadian Supreme Court this morning issued its long-awaited ruling in Equustek. The court upheld an order compelling Google to remove search results for specified websites, not just in Canada, but everywhere in the world.
This essay closely examines the effect on free-expression rights when platforms such as Facebook or YouTube silence their users’ speech. The first part describes the often messy blend of government and private power behind many content removals, and discusses how the combination undermines users’ rights to challenge state action. The second part explores the legal minefield for users—or potentially, legislators—claiming a right to speak on major platforms.
On Tuesday, in a courtroom in Luxembourg, the Court of Justice of the European Union is to consider whether Google must enforce the “right to be forgotten” — which requires search engines to erase search results based on European law — everywhere in the world.
Policymakers increasingly ask Internet platforms like Facebook to “take responsibility” for material posted by their users. Mark Zuckerberg and other tech leaders seem willing to do so. That is in part a good development. Platforms are uniquely positioned to reduce harmful content online. But deputizing them to police users’ speech in the modern public square can also have serious unintended consequences. This piece reviews existing laws and current pressures to expand intermediaries’ liability for user-generated content.
"In May a court allowed a lawsuit to proceed against Model Mayhem, a network that connects models and photographers, for having failed to warn users that rapists have used the site to target victims. In June a judge decided that Yelp, a site for crowdsourced reviews, cannot challenge a court order to remove a defamatory review of a lawyer by a client. Courts and lawmakers are not about to abolish section 230, says Daphne Keller of the Centre for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, but it is unlikely to survive for decades."
"Daphne Keller at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society said internet companies doing business in countries with laws restricting speech know they will be expected to comply with the rules. One common means of doing so without deleting lawful speech elsewhere is to offer country-specific versions of services, like YouTube Thailand, said Keller.
"The company can then honor national law on the version of the service that is targeted to, and primarily used in, that country," she said."
"Daphne Keller, an Internet law expert at Stanford Law School and former attorney at Google, said prior court decisions favor Yelp and she would be surprised if the California Supreme Court didn't reverse the ruling.
"It should be a no-brainer for Yelp to win," she said."
"“The place we all go to exercise our freedom of expression and to share opinions is a private platform run by a private company, and they don’t let us say every single thing that’s legal,” says Daphne Keller, director of intermediary liability at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society and a former head lawyer for Google’s web search team. “They only let us say the things that their policies permit. There’s good business reasons for that for them, but it’s a strange impact for us as a society sharing speech.”"
"And its odds of winning are high, said Daphne Keller, director of intermediary liability at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, who said many companies have successfully used the CDA as a defense."
Lunch: 1:00 pm
Program: 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter play an ever-increasing role in our lives, and mediate our personal and public communications. What laws govern their choices about our speech? Come discuss the law of platforms and online free expression with CIS Intermediary Liability Director Daphne Keller.
Privacy and free speech aren't fundamentally opposed, but they do have a tendency to come into conflict — and recent developments in Europe surrounding the right to be forgotten have brought this conflict into focus. This week, we're joined by Daphne Keller of Stanford's Center For Internet And Society to discuss the collision between these two important principles.